Thursday, July 27, 2006
Le Temps Qui Reste (Time To Leave) explores the reaction of Romain, a gay man who has everything going for him -- a successful career as a fashion photographer, a lover, a supportive family -- and then discovers that he has terminal cancer. Rejecting the usual path of battling the cancer and fraught emotional goodbyes to his loved ones, he refuses treatment, tells no one, alienates those around him, and dies alone. If this sounds morose and a bit harsh, it is, and his behavior pushes away the sympathy of the film audience as well as the characters in his life. And yet the film does a great job of keeping Romain comprehensible and interesting. You come to realize that he is not a total jerk, but his actions are his way of being able to take his leave. The movie is very interior, and Melvil Poupaud does a tremendous job of conveying so much unspoken emotions of fear, anger, doubt, and wistful nostalgia. Director François Ozon deftly makes the interior exterior as Romain at times walks through his own past and confronts himself as a young boy. The moments of magical realism are woven seamlessly into an otherwise very real film. Romain's camera is used to good effect to signal the fleeting memories he'd like to capture. There are also some great interactive character vignettes, with his grandmother (Jeanne Moreau), his father (Daniel Duval), and his lover (Christian Sengewald), and a surprising sequence with a random waitress (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). This is by no means a "feel good" movie, nor is it a tear-jerker, but it should make you think twice about the choices one might make in Romain's situation. Ozon has done a remarkable job of making self-alienation understandable and almost engaging.